What Every Lubricant and Engine Oil Must Do
Though the ability to minimize friction is the number one function of a lubricant, there are other major functions that must be considered. Here are some of the basics without getting too technical. As a lubricant, an engine oil is also required to:
Clean- An engine oil lubricant must maintain internal cleanliness by suspending contaminants from adhering to components. High performance cleaning packages in advanced synthetic oils should also slowly dissolve existing deposits left behind by petroleum oils.
Cool Moving Elements- Reducing friction will reduce the amount of heat that is generated and lower the operating temperature of the components. An engine oil lubricant must also absorb heat from components and transfer it to a location where it can be safely dissipated. For example, in some advanced engine designs, oil is sprayed into the bottom of the engine pistons to cool them.
Prevent Contamination- The motor oil lubricant should act as a dynamic seal in locations such as the piston, piston ring and cylinder contact areas. This minimizes contamination by combustion byproducts (for example) in the lubricating system. Engine oils are also relied upon to support long life of mechanical seals and to minimize external contamination and fluid loss.
Dampen Shock- The engine oil lubricant may be required to cushion the blows of mechanical shock to the drivetrain. (Common examples are pot-holes and railroad tracks.) A lubricant film can absorb and dispense energy spikes over a broader contact area. True synthetic motor oils have 7 to 10 times the film strength of petroleum oils, providing far better shock dampening which minimizes surface wear damage to moving engine components.
Transfer Energy- An engine oil lubricant may be required to act as an energy transfer median as in the case of hydraulic equipment or lifters in an automotive engine, and is even used to “fire” fuel injectors in the HEUI type of diesel engine.
Prevent Corrosion- A motor oil lubricant must also have the ability to prevent or minimize internal component corrosion (rust). This can be accomplished within the oil’s additive package either by chemically neutralizing the corrosive products, or by setting up a barrier between the components and the corrosive material.
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